||January 15th, 2009
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The story follows orphan Bryony, 14, to Court where her cousin is King and through the intricacies of state politics as she learns more about her family.
This is a fantasy adventure story with a hint of romance and an historical type setting. Aimed at 10+/early teens, it can still be enjoyed by able younger readers or adults who enjoy a bit of light fantasy to leave their troubles behind!
Orphaned young, Bryony is brought up in the sheltered community of an abbey. When she turns 14, she is sent to join her cousin, the King of Athlandia, at Kynbury Castle, and the only family she knows. She has to learn the ways of life at court. She quickly makes friends with her maid, Milly. However, she also soon learns that the King is not as benevolent as she thought and things in the country are not quite as they seem. When an event occurs - an encounter with the rebels - that changes her perception of her family, Bryony has to decide where her loyalty, her friendships and, ultimately, her heart lie.
She ran out to the front steps of the castle. The soldiers had ridden straight into the centre of the market square, encircling an old wagon. It seemed to be filled with goods, sacks or baggage that Bryony couldn't quite see. As she watched, the King dismounted his horse, took off his helmet and gloves, which he passed to his squire, and spoke to a knight behind him.
"I didn't see you once we were in the thick of things, Jay. I hope you gave as good an account of yourself as I did."
"Not quite, sire," Jay replied carefully, his expression masked, "my men and I gave chase to a group who ran off back towards the woods."
"Ah - you mopped up for us. Good."
Bryony shuddered at their words but was then distracted from the conversation by a dark stain she could see gradually growing in steady spirals around one of the wheels of the cart. Something was seeping from the sacks and slowly dripping down the footplate, along the rim of the wheel and creating small pools amongst the cobbles. It glistened darkly. Bryony gasped with sudden shock as she realised it was blood and that the baggage in the wagon was bodies.
Unwin crossed over to the wagon and pulled a body roughly from the top of the pile. It fell loosely to the ground with a dull thud, face towards her, and she turned away, dizzy and nauseous, clutching the castle wall for support. But not before she had seen the face of a young and handsome man staring blankly back at her, his dark brown hair matted with congealing blood and his still grey eyes disconcertingly familiar to her.
Sue Magee, TheBookbag.com
Bryony was orphaned when she was very young and since then has lived in the Abbey at Ambleton, but once she reached her fourteenth birthday her cousin, Unwin, King of Athlandia, required that she join him at court. She lost the only friends she had known, her clothes were replaced with much grander garments and she became a part of the inner circle of the court. It wasn't long before she realised that her cousin was far from benevolent but he was fighting an uprising and perhaps what he was doing was necessary. Then Milly, her maid, is punished for stepping slightly out of line and Bryony realises how little she knows of other people in Kynbury and even of the history of her own family.
The first thing you need to do is to forget all about trying to place the story in terms of time. The clothes, the transport, the internecine fighting all suggest pre-Tudor times, but gardens have makeovers and some names Ed, Stan and Dean, for instance suggest the twentieth century. Don't worry about it children don't care about such things. Forget too about trying to place Athlandia or Nordmark or any other places you'll see mentioned. This is fantasy without the magical aspects.
But it is a magical story. You'll love Bryony. She might be just fourteen but she can think for herself and she has a strong sense of what's right and wrong. Violence makes her feel sick and King Unwin has no compunction about who's about when he takes his revenge. It's not common for servants to be treated as equals, but lacking other friends Bryony treats her maid, Milly, almost as a sister. When something happens which changes her perception of Unwin and other family members Bryony has to decide where her loyalties rest.
There are one or two scenes which might upset a particularly sensitive child but that's my only (very minor) quibble. It's going to be compelling reading for the older tween girl. Once I got into the story I found myself carrying the book around with me and reading a little more at any opportunity. It's exciting, with great pace and dramatic tension which had me on the edge of the chair. We're not keen on cliff-hanger endings here at Bookbag as we find that children usually need to know the outcome of a story without waiting for the next book to be published, so be warned that you are going to have to buy the next book in the series to find out what happens next and that's just you! Heaven knows what the young reader will be thinking. Fortunately the next book in the series is available!
A D Baker, Goodreads
This book was quite inventive and brilliant, I found I related to Bryrony well and it had a darker quality I hadn't expected in a kid's book. It's refreshing to find a medieval book for children that doesn't contain full-on magic. Don't get me wrong, I adore fantasy novels!
When I began reading this book I thought I might be just a little too old to really enjoy it. Thankfully, I was proven wrong.
Though I completely forgot all about the small prologue while reading the rest of the book, the story starts off at a steady pace and continues to maintain that pace throughout the entire novel; nothing is revealed too quickly and there's enough time for the reader to digest what's happened before another important event occurs.
Bryony is a very likeable character and I really did love the energy and liveliness that Milly brought to the story. Both are strong characters and they make a wonderful duo throughout the story.
Though a few small things were a little bit obvious (particularly with the help of a family tree) the story definitely still had enough excitement and action to keep me wanting more long after I'd turned the final page.
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Reader Reviews for "Blood and Allegiance"
|Reviewed by Annette Hart
|Unfortunately my books are not currently available through Amazon but can be bought from Amazon.co.uk|